Detroit — Two black public officers say they’re outraged after they got “Sambo Awards” final week at a dinner honoring former Detroit mayor Coleman Younger.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Division director Gary Brown and police chief James Craig got the highest two “Sambo Awards” at a dinner Thursday hosted by the “Name ‘Em Out Coalition” and its president, African-American activist Agnes Hitchcock.
Hitchcock, who attracted nationwide media consideration in 2007 when she was arrested and fined for throwing grapes at Detroit faculty board members, insists the annual awards are supposed to make clear insurance policies that hurt the town’s black neighborhood.
Brown and Craig say the awards are racially offensive.
When Hitchcock was advised Brown and Craig had been insulted by the award, she stated: “This was a celebration of Mayor Coleman Younger’s life. He got here into workplace when (police) had been killing black males everywhere in the metropolis of Detroit. Immediately (Craig) lords over a police division that’s solely 55 p.c black and dropping, so he deserves that award.”
Hitchcock stated of Brown: “I’ve misplaced depend of what number of instances the water price has elevated in Detroit. Gary Brown might use some extra awards.”
Brown, who acquired a “Sambo Award” in 2013 when he was on the Metropolis Council, stated he and others on the checklist “don’t deserve to be dragged by means of the mud like that. If these had been white nationalists saying this, we’d be outraged — properly, I’m outraged regardless of who stated it. And, worse, I’ve to clarify this to my grandkids.”
Craig stated the awards undermine efforts to heal a racial divide within the sixth Precinct after former officers Gary Steele and Michael Garrison had been fired for his or her alleged roles in a racially insensitive Snapchat video.
“Even Steele and Garrison didn’t name black folks ‘Sambos,’” he stated. “As somebody who has confronted discrimination from different black folks due to my mild complexion, I can let you know: I don’t care if it’s coming from the mouth of a white man or a black man — racist is racist, and I’m going to name it out after I see it.”
The slur “Sambo” stems from the 1899 guide “The Story of Little Black Sambo,” which contained drawings of black characters with exaggerated options.
Hitchcock’s “Sambo Awards” sparked controversy in 2005, when mayoral candidate Sharon McPhail got here underneath fireplace for taking part within the ceremony. That yr’s awards went to Dave Bing, who on the time was a businessman who would later be elected mayor, and McPhail’s opponent, then-incumbent mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.